“How do I know if I’m being sexist?”

Fun fact I learned while researching for this article: There are more CEOs of large U.S. companies who are named David (4.5%) than there are CEOs who are women (4.1%).

So, to finally arrive at the original question of “how do I know if I am being sexist?”

Well, you may not ever know for sure. It is incredibly difficult to change or control unconscious biases.

  • Always asking or assuming that the woman in a meeting will take notes
  • Allowing women colleagues to plan, set up, provide, and serve food at company events, and then also clean up after everyone
  • Interrupting or talking over women in meetings, or repeating their ideas as if they are your own and taking credit
  • Not listening to or being held accountable for listening to female managers
  • Constantly using sports metaphors with the assumption that everyone gets it (this is exclusionary to everyone who isn’t a sports fan)
  • Assuming that a woman’s anger is irrational or due to “the time of the month”
  • Telling a woman she has the wrong tone or is being emotional, when in all honesty if a man behaved that way he would be considered assertive, clever, funny, or ambitious
  1. Bennett, Jessica. (2016), Feminist Fight Club. HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY.
  2. Berman, Robby. (2018), “Women are more productive than men, according to new research.” World Economic Forum, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/10/women-are-more-productive-than-men-at-work-these-days.
  3. Heilman, M.E. and Parks-Stamm, E.J. (2007), “Gender Stereotypes in the Workplace: Obstacles to Women’s Career Progress”, Correll, S.J. (Ed.) Social Psychology of Gender (Advances in Group Processes, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 47–77.
  4. James, Geoffrey. (2016), “Science Says: Woman in Business Outperform Men.Inc.com, https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/science-says-woman-in-business-outperform-men.html.
  5. Johnson, Stefanie K., et al. (2016), “If There’s Only One Woman in Your Candidate Pool, There’s Statistically No Chance She’ll Be Hired.” Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2016/04/if-theres-only-one-woman-in-your-candidate-pool-theres-statistically-no-chance-shell-be-hired.
  6. Pinsker, Joe. (2014), “Hedge Funds Run by Women Outperform Those Run by Men.” The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/08/hedge-funds-run-by-women-outperform-other-hedge-funds/375542/.
  7. Tinsley, Catherine H. and Ely, Robin J. (2018), “What Most People Get Wrong About Men and Women.” Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2018/05/what-most-people-get-wrong-about-men-and-women.
  8. Wojcik, John. (2020), “AOC: ‘Rep. Yoho called me, and I quote, a “fucking bitch.’” People’s World, https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/aoc-rep-yoho-called-me-and-i-quote-a-fucking-bitch/
  9. Woolley, Anita, et al. (2015), “Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others.” The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/18/opinion/sunday/why-some-teams-are-smarter-than-others.html.
  10. Zenger, Jack and Folkman, Joseph. (2019), “Research: Women Score Higher Than Men in Most Leadership Skills.” Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2019/06/research-women-score-higher-than-men-in-most-leadership-skills.

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Kara J

Kara J

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Writing evidence-based, thought-provoking content to spread knowledge and ideas that help people. I hold an MS I/O Psychology and BA Philosophy.